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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

To tackle drug menace, UN offers help to Punjab govt

“Punjab has huge potential to become a model state for not just India but perhaps South Asia on how to develop and implement state-of-art policies and interventions to address the drug problem.”

Written by Adil Akhzer | Chandigarh |
April 29, 2017 3:25:12 am

The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has offered to assist the Punjab government in dealing with drug problem in the state. UNODC officials Friday said that they have sought an appointment with Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and the response from the government so far is “positive”. Sergey Kapinos, UNODC Representative for South Asia told The Indian Express that his office has initiated contact with the new government in the state regarding the issue and that “Punjab has huge potential to become a model state for not just India but perhaps South Asia on how to develop and implement state-of-art policies and interventions to address the drug problem.”

“We are ready to render every needed assistance in drug prevention in Punjab based on best international practices and availability of very effective tools developed by UNODC. I can assure that such cooperation will be result-oriented and very effective,” he said, adding that the drug problem in Punjab is “very serious” and Punjab being a border state is more vulnerable. When asked what UNOCD can offer the Punjab government, Kapinos said that based on best international practices, the UN group can develop a tailor-made model for Punjab. “The UNODC believes that a comprehensive and balanced model would work well for Punjab. This would address not only controlling supply but also reducing demand for drugs and addressing health consequences,” he said.

The UNODC south Asia representative said they can also offer an awareness package on prevention called “listen first”. “The basic message is to encourage parents to listen to the needs of children and youth with an aim to promote a sense of safety and protection for them…,” he said, adding “UNODC has also compiled a series of evidence based family skills programmes that have been proven to improve the secure and healthy parent/child attachment; parental supervision, monitoring, and effective discipline; communication of pro-social family values; parental involvement in child’s life; supportive parenting; and a cohesive and organized family environment. Such factors are important to prevent drug use, substance abuse and other risky behaviors (particularly violence).”

According to Kapinos, to address the supply side, UNODC can present to the entire State a solid capacity building programme package for law enforcement officers including through eLearning. “The Police Academy in Phillaur in Punjab is a case in point where UNODC set up computer based training to help police officers to interdict and counter drug trafficking. Such initiatives can be replicated throughout the State,” he said, adding that a training package for law enforcement and criminal justice officers to counter new psychoactive substances, pharmaceutical preparations containing narcotic drugs and psychotropic substances and the emergence of the internet as a mode of illicit drug trafficking (called “Darknets”) can be offered.

He added, “UNODC can also share the innumerable training and knowledge tools that it has produced on treatment and rehabilitation for drug dependents. From Standard Operation Protocols (including on substitution therapy) to overdose prevention and Hepatitis C. From counseling modules for schools to treatment protocols for prisons, much can be offered to deal with the problem.”

UNODC officials also said that treatment offered to the drug addicts in the state should be attractive. “If treatment is not attractive to the patient, why will a patient[addict] go to any health facility…,” said Kunal Kishore Coordinator, Drug Prevention and Health in South Asia at UNODC. State’s Principal Secretary, Health Anjali Bhawara confirmed to The Indian Express that UNODC office has made a contact regarding the drug issue.

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